I knocked up a blog a couple of months ago on the pain that is email traffic these days, and I was reminded about this when I emerged from a two hour meeting yesterday, to find 92 emails waiting for me that hadn’t been there when I left. That’s right, 92. Now admittedly some of those were diary invites and the like, but it was after our work filters had taken out all of the Viagra and instant Nigerian fortune offers, so there needed to be a little bit of attention paid to each one. Actually, the thrill of spam has been out of my life for some time now, what with more efficient filters we have these days. I’ve no idea whether the stuff that gets caught and filtered is the same as it was a few years back, it may have moved on into more exciting scams, and I feel a bit like I might be missing out.
Anyhow, I started thinking about ’email etiquette’ and the sort of stuff we see but don’t notice any more. And here are my 5 tips that you, yes you, gentle reader, can follow in order to make people like me like you even more than I do today:
1. Sort out your footer.
I have a contact from work whose footer has three different fonts (including a very large signature), around 10 lines of company information, details of his ‘meet me’ number (whatever that is) and a delightful company strapping that decrees the virtue of simplicity. Oh, if only there were corporate awards for business irony. Anyway, I regularly received a two line email from him, where the words on the two lines are completely missed in this mish mash of nonsense. Even worse, he has his settings so that the footer gets sent every time he replies to a chain, which means I can sometimes see this nonsense ten times a day. It does rather, well, twist my melon, man.
2. Stop saying thank you.
I know that people get obsessive about clearing out their inboxes. It only struck me recently that mostly this just shifts the problem, and partly this is because people need closure on their emails, so they end up saying helpful things like ‘thanks’ on their replies, just so they can delete them from their inboxes. And I do like people to say thanks, really. I just think as a one line email it’s just shorthand for saying ‘please leave my inbox’.
3. Don’t copy the world, because some twit will press reply all.
And we all know why people copy in the world, don’t we…it’s so that no one can turn around and say that they weren’t told. But it’s lazy in the first place, and it’s even lazier to just reply to all out of habit.
4. Listen to what you sound like.
I was watching ‘Silent Witness’ with my wife the other night and we had a drinking game where every time there was a conversation that could never actually happen in real life, we lost. Or won, depending if you own the local off-licence. Try it yourself, next time you’re stuck with for an opportunity to get comatose with your partner. Anyway, emails get me a bit like that. People just don’t communicate with each other in real life like they do in emails. I get seriously fed up with people being aggressive and rude when they write a note. I also get a bit teed off when they can’t spell properly, but I fear that might be just too much radio 4. In any case, if it’s not rude, it’s lazy. And if you’re being lazy when you communicate with me, I’m going to be a tad less excited about getting your message, no?
5. Don’t give me that faux green agenda.
Please, please, please take off your ‘be kind to the environment and don’t print this email’ footers. I think I last printed an email in 1983, but even if that wasn’t the case, do you really think that being patronised with an automated footnote is really going to sway me? Oh, and if you really really think it’s a bright idea to tell me not to use a printer, how about not giving me a little symbol of a green tree? That’ll cost more money to print, you know. If you really must put some sort of a slogan on there, then make it say something about you. Of course, that could be the problem. Oh, and while I’m about it, what does ‘Sent from my iPad’ really add to the great weight of human knowledge?
So, I’m off now, to knock out a few more of these pesky emails.
All The Best,
Please be good to the environment. Take regular exercise, eat well, wake up early, be good to your dogs, and teach your children to pray. Also don’t read emails like this if you can’t be bothered to get to the en